'Coole Park, 1929' by William Butler Yeats

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I meditate upon a swallow's flight,
Upon a aged woman and her house,
A sycamore and lime-tree lost in night
Although that western cloud is luminous,
Great works constructed there in nature's spite
For scholars and for poets after us,
Thoughts long knitted into a single thought,
A dance-like glory that those walls begot.

There Hyde before he had beaten into prose
That noble blade the Muses buckled on,
There one that ruffled in a manly pose
For all his timid heart, there that slow man,
That meditative man, John Synge, and those
Impetuous men, Shawe-Taylor and Hugh Lane,
Found pride established in humility,
A scene well Set and excellent company.

They came like swallows and like swallows went,
And yet a woman's powerful character
Could keep a Swallow to its first intent;
And half a dozen in formation there,
That seemed to whirl upon a compass-point,
Found certainty upon the dreaming air,
The intellectual sweetness of those lines
That cut through time or cross it withershins.

Here, traveller, scholar, poet, take your stand
When all those rooms and passages are gone,
When nettles wave upon a shapeless mound
And saplings root among the broken stone,
And dedicate - eyes bent upon the ground,
Back turned upon the brightness of the sun
And all the sensuality of the shade -
A moment's memory to that laurelled head.

Editor 1 Interpretation

An Exploration of Yeats' "Coole Park, 1929"

William Butler Yeats is a renowned Irish poet and playwright whose works have been celebrated for their beauty, depth, and complexity. Among his most notable works is "Coole Park, 1929," a poem that captures the essence of Ireland's natural beauty and the timeless qualities of human life. Written in 1929, the poem is a tribute to Lady Gregory, a close friend of Yeats, who owned Coole Park, a famous estate in Galway, Ireland.

In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will dive deep into the poem to explore its themes, symbols, and language. We will examine how Yeats uses these literary devices to create a powerful and lasting impression on the reader.


At its core, "Coole Park, 1929" is a meditation on the nature of time, memory, and mortality. The poem is a reflection on Yeats' own life and the lives of his friends, who are all approaching the end of their days. Through his use of vivid imagery and metaphor, Yeats creates a sense of timelessness and immortality that transcends the physical world.

One of the central themes of the poem is the idea of transformation. Yeats uses the image of the swans in Coole Park's lake to represent this theme. The swans, which are a recurring motif in Yeats' poetry, have a symbolic significance that is deeply rooted in Irish mythology. In the poem, the swans are described as "mysterious," "indifferent," and "passionless." They are a reminder that everything in life is constantly changing and that nothing is permanent.

Another theme that runs throughout the poem is the idea of memory. Yeats reflects on his memories of Lady Gregory and the other friends he has lost over the years. He remembers their conversations, their laughter, and their shared experiences. He acknowledges that these memories are all he has left of them and that they will soon be gone as well.

The poem also explores the idea of the poet's role in society. Yeats sees himself as a custodian of Ireland's cultural heritage, responsible for preserving its myths, legends, and traditions. He recognizes that his work is part of a larger tradition of Irish poetry and that it is his duty to continue this tradition.


Yeats uses a variety of symbols in "Coole Park, 1929" to convey his themes and ideas. One of the most prominent symbols in the poem is the swans. As mentioned earlier, the swans represent transformation and the fleeting nature of life. They are also a symbol of love and devotion, as they mate for life and are known for their loyalty to their partners.

Another symbol in the poem is the "shadowy horses." These horses are a metaphor for the passing of time and the inevitability of death. They are described as "strange" and "mournful," and their presence creates a sense of foreboding in the poem.

The lake in Coole Park is also a symbol in the poem. It represents the passage of time and the ever-changing nature of life. The lake is described as "glassy" and "motionless," but it is also a source of life and renewal. It is the home of the swans and other creatures, and it is a reminder that there is always beauty and wonder in the world.


Yeats' use of language in "Coole Park, 1929" is both beautiful and complex. He employs a wide range of literary devices, including imagery, metaphor, and allusion. His language is often musical and lyrical, and it evokes a sense of timelessness and immortality.

One of the most striking aspects of Yeats' language in the poem is his use of repetition. He repeats certain phrases and images throughout the poem, creating a sense of rhythm and continuity. For example, the phrase "nine and fifty swans" is repeated several times in the poem, emphasizing the importance of the swans as a symbol of transformation and mortality.

Yeats also uses allusion to great effect in the poem. He references classical mythology and Irish folklore, connecting his work to a larger cultural tradition. For example, the image of the "shadowy horses" is a nod to the Greek myth of the chariot of the sun, while the swans are a reference to the ancient Irish legend of the Children of Lir.


"Coole Park, 1929" is a powerful and moving poem that explores some of the most profound themes of human existence. Yeats' use of language, symbols, and imagery creates a sense of timelessness and immortality that transcends the physical world. The poem is a tribute to Lady Gregory and to the larger cultural heritage of Ireland, and it encourages us to reflect on our own lives and the fleeting nature of time. It is a testament to Yeats' genius as a poet, and it continues to inspire and move readers today.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Coole Park, 1929: A Masterpiece of William Butler Yeats

William Butler Yeats, one of the greatest poets of the 20th century, is known for his profound and mystical poetry that explores the complexities of human existence. Among his many works, Coole Park, 1929 stands out as a masterpiece that captures the essence of his poetic vision. This poem is a tribute to Lady Gregory, a close friend and patron of Yeats, and her estate, Coole Park, which was a source of inspiration for many of his poems. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, imagery, and language of Coole Park, 1929, and how they contribute to the overall meaning of the poem.

The poem begins with a description of the natural beauty of Coole Park, with its "tall trees" and "winding walks." Yeats uses vivid imagery to create a sense of the place, and the reader can almost feel the cool breeze and hear the rustling of leaves. The park is a symbol of the natural world, which Yeats sees as a source of spiritual renewal and inspiration. He writes, "I know that I shall meet my fate / Somewhere among the clouds above; / Those that I fight I do not hate, / Those that I guard I do not love." These lines suggest that Yeats sees himself as a guardian of the natural world, and that he is willing to fight for its preservation. The clouds above represent the spiritual realm, and Yeats suggests that his fate is tied to this realm.

The poem then shifts to a reflection on the passing of time and the transience of life. Yeats writes, "The years to come seemed waste of breath, / A waste of breath the years behind / In balance with this life, this death." These lines suggest that life is fleeting, and that the only thing that matters is the present moment. Yeats sees Lady Gregory and Coole Park as a reminder of this truth, and he is grateful for the time he has spent there. He writes, "I think that I shall never see / A poem lovely as a tree." These lines are a reference to Joyce Kilmer's poem "Trees," and they suggest that Yeats sees the natural world as a source of beauty and inspiration.

The poem then shifts to a reflection on Lady Gregory and her role as a patron of the arts. Yeats writes, "Lady Gregory, who had brought / The Irish players to her house / Observed that fashionable drawing-room / And scandal gossip would break up / Nine centuries of continuous song." These lines suggest that Lady Gregory was aware of the importance of preserving Irish culture and tradition, and that she saw the arts as a means of doing so. Yeats sees Lady Gregory as a kindred spirit, and he is grateful for her support. He writes, "I have met them at close of day / Coming with vivid faces / From counter or desk among grey / Eighteenth-century houses." These lines suggest that Yeats sees Lady Gregory and her friends as a source of vitality and inspiration, and that he is grateful for their support.

The poem then shifts to a reflection on the passing of time and the inevitability of death. Yeats writes, "Now that my ladder's gone, / I must lie down where all the ladders start / In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart." These lines suggest that Yeats sees death as a return to the source of life, and that he is prepared to face it. The "foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart" is a reference to the human condition, which Yeats sees as a mixture of beauty and ugliness, joy and sorrow. He suggests that it is only by embracing this condition that we can truly live.

The poem ends with a reflection on the legacy of Lady Gregory and Coole Park. Yeats writes, "The intellect of man is forced to choose / Perfection of the life, or of the work, / And if it take the second must refuse / A heavenly mansion, raging in the dark." These lines suggest that Lady Gregory and Coole Park represent a choice between the perfection of life and the perfection of art. Yeats suggests that Lady Gregory chose the latter, and that her legacy is a testament to the power of art to transcend the limitations of life. He writes, "I think it better that in times like these / A poet's mouth be silent, for in truth / We have no gift to set a statesman right." These lines suggest that Yeats sees himself as a poet, and that he believes that his role is to bear witness to the beauty and complexity of the world, rather than to offer solutions to its problems.

In conclusion, Coole Park, 1929 is a masterpiece of William Butler Yeats that captures the essence of his poetic vision. The poem is a tribute to Lady Gregory and Coole Park, which were a source of inspiration for many of his poems. The themes of the poem include the natural world, the passing of time, the transience of life, the role of art in preserving culture and tradition, and the inevitability of death. The imagery and language of the poem are vivid and evocative, and they contribute to the overall meaning of the poem. Coole Park, 1929 is a testament to the power of poetry to capture the beauty and complexity of the world, and to bear witness to the human condition.

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